Welcome to the second installment of Ninety Feet From Home, where I review each MLB ballpark.
Six categories will be evaluated with a low score of 1 to a high score of 10 based on my experience, relative to overall quality and not any other ballpark. They will then be weighted accordingly to produce a score with respect to 100.
Why the weighting? Because something like food is not as important as architecture or fan relations in my opinion.
For the mathematically inclined, my equation:
where L is location, P is Parking, Ar is architecture, Am is amenities, F is food, and FR is fan relations.
Being the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (whew!) home since 1966, “The Big A” has seen two teams and five different names (Los Angeles, California, Anaheim and Los Angeles of Anaheim for the Angels and Los Angeles Rams of the NFL from 1980-1994) play on their grounds. It has been home to a World Series winner in 2002, a memorable ALCS against the Red Sox in 1986, and the introduction (and subsequent overuse) of thundersticks and the Rally Monkey!
Location – 8
Far enough from Los Angeles proper to avoid the chaos and close enough to Disneyland to have something to do. The neighborhood is fantastic (obviously), but there’s not many sports-related things to do around the stadium to give it the 10. Nearby, however, is The Bruery, a small craft brewery serving up some decent-to-great sour and tart beers. (Note: This grade is for those coming from the south or the southern part of LA. I came from northern LA and it took me 2.5 hours to drive 35 miles at around 3 p.m. Either plan ahead to be down south before the game or lower the rating to a 3).
Parking – 8
Street parking for the stadium is there (and sparse), but only if you’re willing to walk a fair distance. The lots around the stadium are sufficient for the crowd and are $10, according to the web. Why didn’t I know? I parked in a lot on the southwest corner of the stadium for $8. The lot is right next to the official lot, but I got out in two minutes as opposed to what looked like substantially more from the main lots. Even if you did have to pay for parking, $10 isn’t bad — for Los Angeles or any city for that matter.
Architecture – 6
A solid baseball stadium. No spectacular views like Pittsburgh or fountains like KC. The thing to see here is the solid baseball that has been played for the last decade under Mike Scioscia. All the ramps and seating areas are accessible and logically laid out, so no dead ends or one special ramp going to the entire second level.
So why a 6 and not a 5? There are a few interesting (but not must-see) things to look at. Upon entering the main gates, you are greeted by two giants Angels caps (with correct MLB logo on the back!) that you can stand under to get out of the California sun.
Looking to your right from the main gates you should see a big A (hence the nickname) in the middle of the parking lot. It was in the stadium itself until renovation moved it out and serves at the info screen for drivers on the Orange Freeway.
There’s a small grass area on the third base side with a stage that can hold pregame concerts if so desired. Lastly, the rocks and running water in the outfield add to the nice California ambience. Only problem? You can’t walk out there amongst them; the best you can do is walk behind them on the centerfield concourse.
Amenities – 1
Outside of the glass case housing the 2002 World Series trophy outside of the team store, there’s no baseball-related activities here. There’s not even any kid-distracting activities here (such as a merry-go-round or mini-golf course). While some more baseball-related things (like a Hall of Fame, for example) would be nice, the focus is where it should be – on the game. But your 5-year-old might not agree with you on that one.
Food – 7
Solid ballpark fare with two quality options that I highly recommend.
Out in right-center field is the Chronic Tacos “stand.” Closer to a Subway in ordering procedure, you pick the kind of shell, meat, and any toppings you would like. Needless to say, the line can get pretty long pretty quickly. Not the best tacos I’ve ever had, but they are the best tacos in an MLB stadium hands down.
Then, along the third base line by the entrance gate is Clyde Wright’s Tennessee Bar-B-Que, serving up a delicious hot dogs wrapped in beef and covered in pulled pork.
Get yourself some napkins and a fork (and maybe a knife) before you eat this so you don’t have to ask for help from the old couple seated behind you. You can also add peppers and sauerkraut, but I declined so as to avoid repeated bathroom stops.
And while you’re there, head on over to the Draft Pick, which serves the standard BMC (Bud/Miller/Coors) stuff along with Bootlegger’s craft brewery beer. I had their American Pale Ale and, much like the tacos, while not the best beer in the world, it’s in the top five as far as stadium libations are concerned.
Fan Relations – 8
Unless you have a ticket, don’t even try to get into the club level or the club directly behind home plate on the lower level. Standard procedure on two out of the three, which doesn’t surprise me. The third one? Allowing me to walk behind home plate to just take a picture. As you can see, success!
The man on the first base side denied me, while the kind lady on the third base side allowed me in. Thanks to the kind lady that day! Outside of that, even though it was a division game between first-place Texas and the then-second-place Angels, tickets were never checked and I had no problem sitting in either the lower or upper deck using common sense.
I can imagine on less popular games you could get closer, so feel free to move on up. Likewise, the staff and security (as noted above) were generally friendly (although a little too protective of their “everyone in the stadium gets one” thundersticks. I had to hide my set to get an extra as a souvenir.)
Overall – 60/100
The focus is on the baseball, plain and simple. While not the cozy surroundings of the older or newer ballparks, it is far from sterile. Either a Hall-of-Fame section or a history of the game in Los Angeles would definitely make it a more educational (baseball-wise) experience.
As always, comments and feedback are welcome!